The hottest scam in Florida, growing across the state and spreading nationwide, is the mass production of counterfeit credit cards embedded with account numbers of unwitting consumers, the Orlando Sentinel reports. Always looking for new ventures, some of the same rings of Florida identity thieves long engaged in other forms of fraud are making hundreds of fake cards and taking them on the road to withdraw cash or buy goods, police say. Counterfeit cards are not new, but their use has exploded during the past two years as computer hackers steal millions of records from major retail stores and rings of thieves develop new ways to skim information from ATMs and credit-card swiping machines.
Anyone who uses a card to withdraw cash or buy something can become a victim. Much of this growing crime radiates from Florida, long a hub for Medicare fraud, telemarketing scams, tax-return ripoffs, investment schemes and other forms of flimflam. Airport security agents sometimes call Broward County sheriff’s detectives to say they’ve stopped a departing passenger with hundreds of apparently phony cards. Orlando police, meanwhile, are chasing scammers who stick devices into ATMs to copy account numbers, which are quickly embedded into counterfeit cards. It’s all part of a growing black market that connects sophisticated hackers in places such as Russia or Ukraine to common thieves close to home.